Opera San Jose opens its production of The Flying Dutchman this Saturday night, a relatively early work by Wagner with an ancient curse and a search for faithful love. Stage director Brad Dalton says the vast expanses of the Norwegian coast will be brought to life through detailed projections.
There’s more information at the Opera San Jose website.
“Wagner’s very specific about a lot of locations which are hard to represent with normal scenery,” Dalton explains. “We have full-scale, vivid, beautiful projections which portray Norway in the dead of winter, with the ice and the snow, and the trees, and the ocean. But it is in no ways meant to distract from the main drama which sits in front of it.” The ship of Daland, a Norwegian sea-captain, runs aground following a storm. There they encounter the haunted ship known as the Flying Dutchman, cursed to sail forever, until the captain is able to find and marry a woman who will be faithful to the end. For all of its gothic-sounding plot, though, Dalton says the score is quite varied. “The music in The Flying Dutchman is actually not as somber and morose as some people would associate with some of the longer moments that they may have seen in the Ring Cycle. To me, there’s a kind of effervescent, sort of joyous quality to a lot of the music, and I think it was written by Wagner to be a popular thriller of a piece.” And audiences would eat it up: “They could go witness on stage the legend of the Flying Dutchman, actually appearing before them. And I think he believed that his audiences would be excited, and running for cover and grabbing each other, so it’s kind of like seeing a thriller of its period.” There will be six performances through February 25th.